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The most famous rock in Yosemite National Park's Valley, El Capitan, a granite monolith 3,593 feet high.
Yosemite National Park is one of the best known wilderness areas in the world, a huge mass of rock and wood in the Sierra Nevada Mountains visited by over 3 million tourists a year.
Yosemite has been a hiking destination since 1890, with 800 miles of trails going up to 13,000 ft altitude. Mountain biking is easy in the seven mile long, one mile wide valley, but hard work elsewhere. The Valley offers a free shuttle bus service, various shops, art centres, galleries, bike and raft rentals and ice rink in winter.
The road entering/leaving the park.
Climbing is popular in Yosemite and El Capitan is the #1 target for those who love high times, though Tuolumne Meadows also has a good selection of mad rocks.
Downhill and cross-country skiing can be found at Badger Pass during winter.
But beware! Yosemite Valley is the easiest, most impressive and warmest place to stay in the park, but lodging and the three camp sites are limited and in much demand, so book ahead. Using Yosemite's other camp sites will involve long and winding uphill/downhill roads to reach the valley and much colder nights at much higher altitude.
However! The Valley is also - much of the time - a mass of vehicles, no entry signs, one-way streets and roadworks, so if you don't mind chilly nights and prefer solitude you might choose to camp in Yosemite's higher, more isolated places such as Tuolumne Meadows.
San Francisco/Bay area, distance: 195 mi (314 km). Time: 4-5 hours
Sacramento, distance: 176 mi (283 km). Time: 4 hours
Reno & Lake Tahoe, June - October conditions permitting, distance: 218 mi (351 km) (Reno). Time: 5 hours
Los Angeles area,
distance: 313 mi (504 km).
Time: 6 hours
San Diego area,
distance: 441 mi (710 km).
Time: 8 hours
Las Vegas, June - October conditions permitting, distance: 400 mi (642 km). Time: 8 hours
Death Valley National Park, June - October, distance: 270 mi (435 km). Time: 5 hours
Yosemite Valley meadow with pleasant short walks, the start of a bike track and a good early place to stop and unload bikes or walking shoes before the central traffic chaos begins.
Yosemite is open all year, though some areas are inaccessible by car from about November to May due to snow. You can drive your car into and around Yosemite, though we encourage you to use shuttles in some areas.
Reservations are not required to enter Yosemite, but it is recommended that you make reservations for camping or lodging if you plan to spend the night.